3 Ways to Break the Veneer: A Book Review

Veneer – manufactured product, with a covering that hides the real material inside. Inflates the perceived value of the product by hiding inferior substance underneath.

Veneer: Living Deeply In A Surface Society is an enjoyable read that seeks to expose the surface-level lives that many in today’s culture seem to be living in, and then provides recommendations on how to break free from this “veneer.”

It’s an easy read, not preachy, but like sitting and chatting with a friend. My only critique with the conversation was that I spent the first half of the book thinking, “I agree, but what do you think we should do about it?!?” (but maybe that’s just my impatience showing).

Veneer Book Review

But that’s only a minuscule editing critique–the content is excellent and I wholeheartedly recommend it for leaders who want to realize how the world is changing and how society is altering traditional relationships.

What Creates the Veneer?

Without giving too much away, i think it’s worth talking about the concepts presented. The book focuses on 3 aspects of modern life that is contributing to the veneer of society:

Celebrity me:

The creation of an online “inflated” caricature of our true selves. It’s usually ego-centric and indulgent. This is birthed from the temptation of society life, of the appeal of celebrity culture and the desire for personal fame.


Being defined by the things you own. Taking part in the prevalent social competition (“keeping up with the Joneses”), and believing what product marketers say we are, and what we like.

Virtual reality:

The loss of personal interaction, not being “present,” always with one foot in the real world and one foot in the virtual.

Breaking the Veneer Off

How do we fight against these forces? To counteract a culture of shallow lives and consumption, we must actively “work” at improving our:

1. Relationships

(real life, that is) we can’t lose our connection with people. Think about it: do you spend more time cultivTing online relationships or real life relationships?

2. Service

the way to get the focus off ourselves, is to put the focus on others. Instead of “celebrity me”, make others feel like they are celebrities.

3. Community

invest in an honest community, one that will help you and encourage you, one that you can be honest with. This will help build you into a better person and help with the former two points.

Do you agree with this diagnosis (or the treatment) of modern culture? Why or why not?



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be useful. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”